Opposition parties in the province have vowed to oppose the government’s suggestion of using biometrics in local government (LG) elections in only one union council (UC), terming it tantamount to betraying the province’s people.
On Friday, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold polls using biometrics as a pilot project only in UC Ghazi, Haripur. This was communicated in a letter issued by Secretary LG Hafizur Rehman.
The opposition leaders are irked about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government’s request to the ECP and claim the government is in no position to conduct the polls this year.
Awami National Party (ANP) central leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain told The Express Tribune on Saturday that the K-P government is constantly resorting to excuses. “If the government is actually interested in conducting biometric polls it should first consult election experts and then set dates,” said Hussain.
“It is unacceptable that they keep coming up with new dates every month. The government is in a fix as it lacks the expertise to handle the situation,” claimed Hussain.
The former information minister accused the PTI of not taking the LG system seriously because it keeps backtracking from its statements about setting a date for the polls.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) K-P President Khanzada Khan said PTI Chairman Imran Khan had promised his party would hold LG elections within 90 days of assuming power. “There is an inconsistency in the words of PTI leaders and their actions,” maintained Khan, adding the party had already given election dates three times.
“PPP is ready to contest LG polls under the tripartite alliance formed among opposition parties,” said Khan.
Though on April 24, LG minister Inayatullah had stated his department was ready to conduct LG polls sans biometric, the LG secretary still sent a letter to the ECP to hold elections using the electronic method, complained the PPP leader.
According to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Information Secretary Abdul Jalil Jan, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had announced in the assembly that elections would be held within three months. However, nine months have passed and the PTI-led government has still not lived up to its word, he added.
“The provincial government wants to rig the LG polls which is why it is delaying them,” accused Jan.
LG minister Inayatullah, on the other hand, maintained “opposition parties will not be successful in their smear campaign and the government will conduct polls by November.”
“They want to hide their previous failures by criticising us,” Inayatullah told The Express Tribune, adding the government was consulting with ECP officials and biometric polling will be possible in UC Ghazi as a pilot project.
According to the letter sent to the ECP, the provincial government has indentified three points to advocate the use of biometric systems for polling which include national interest, transparency and eliminating bogus votes.
ECP Deputy Director Media Khurshid Alam confirmed the commission has received the letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2014.
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